While many authors by now have discovered MySpace, most writers still glaze over when they hear about Twitter, Stumbleupon, Digg, Facebook, De.li.cio.us. YouTube and Linked In. In a series of articles over the next few months, I hope to put the reader on more friendly terms with this strange but wonderful new world.
Today I am going to explain why authors need to learn to use social media to promote their books and themselves. In later posts, we will spend a little time getting acquainted with some of these tools, and to introduce a few of the major opportunities for networking that can help you launch the next best seller.
Be realistic. Even with a top notch publicist pitching it, your best book ever, and a hot and catchy title, you still have virtually no chance of getting your book featured on Oprah’s Book of the Month. The number of newspapers and magazines that still review books has been scaled back dramatically– for example Sara Pearce, book editor at the Cincinnati Enquirer has left and is not being replaced. Traditional means of promoting your book to the media have been evaporating for some time. But all is not lost, a new champion is riding to the rescue, on the white horse known as social media.
Social media is a phrase that describes interactive social communities like MySpace and Facebook. It also includes blogs (at least when they are actively networking, and social news sites like Digg and Stumbleupon, that ideally allow the average web surfer to decide (literally vote) who on the internet gets the headlines and all the traffic. And it consists of strange forms of communication like YouTube, or Twitter, an instant messaging mini-blogging tool. All of these and more have converged to create a whole new media face that is rapidly replacing the traditional print, TV, and radio media stallworts. Social media is faster, more creative, more personal, more connected, and typically much more knowledgeable than old fashioned TV, magazines, and newpapers.
To authors who hope to promote their books, with social media it is much easier to rise to the top, if you are funny, talented or interesting. If your book is good, or your voice one that grabs the ear, you have a better chance of being “found” because your peers- your old and new readers, your fellow authors, book store owners, librarians and the next door neighbor all will have a say in this new media. Because people are getting connected, the reach of web sites, blogs, and various social media is now limitted only by how much interest your book can stir.
In coming articles in this series I will describe more fully the various ways an energetic and talented author can promote a book on the internet with social media, and I will point out some of the pitfalls to avoid. I will also help you, if you are new to all this, to decide which doors you want to open first. Next in the series?